Mark Danner

Red Cross Report: CIA Tortured Terror Suspects

Author: AP


Filed at 2:54 p.m. ET WASHINGTON (AP) —

The CIA’s secret interrogation program amounted to torture for some of the 14 “high-value detainees” held by the agency, according to published excerpts of an internal 2006 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The ICRC report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalist and professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and excerpted in the April 9 issue of the New York Review of Books.

The neutral, Swiss-based ICRC is designated by the Geneva Conventions on warfare to visit prisoners of war and other people detained by an occupying power, to ensure countries respect their obligations under the 1949 accords.

ICRC officials would not confirm details of the report to The Associated Press and denied leaking it.

“We regret that information attributed to the ICRC has been made public. We share our observations and concerns related to U.S. detentions as part of the confidential dialogue we maintain with U.S. authorities and so we do not wish to comment on the substance of the article,” said Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the Geneva headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The ICRC generally refuses to comment on its prisoner-of-war investigations, reasoning that it undermines the organization’s ability to gain access to the prisoners and influence how they are treated.

A U.S. official familiar with the ICRC report noted that the claims of abuse were made by the alleged terrorists themselves. The official asked to speak anonymously because the CIA interrogation program is classified.

The ICRC was granted private access by the Bush administration to the 14 prisoners after they were moved from secret interrogation sites and prisons to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in 2006.

According to the report, as described by Danner, the prisoners separately and consistently described long-term solitary confinement, waterboarding – which simulates drowning – prolonged stress positions, forced prolonged nudity, beatings, denial of solid food and other forms of abuse.

“The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” states the report, according to Danner.

The report was written shortly after then-President George W. Bush publicly declared that the United States does not and had not tortured detainees at secret CIA prisons known as “black sites.”

The Obama administration has ordered the sites closed and has restricted the CIA to using only those interrogation methods approved for use by the U.S. military until a complete review of the program is conducted.

A purported al-Qaida training manual, obtained by police in Manchester, England in 2000 from the computer of an alleged al-Qaida operative, instructs adherents to claim torture or abuse if they are captured. The document was translated and posted onto the U.S. Justice Department’s Web site.

A leaked 2003 ICRC report said that prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq had been abused in ways that in some cases was tantamount to torture. The report was written before the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison became public. It was leaked shortly after they became known.